10 June 2012
Robert Frost’s Conversational Style and Mock-Heroic Tone
My portfolio consists of a collection of both heroic and tragic poems that incorporate the blank verse form. These poems imitate Robert Frost’s mock-heroic dialogue and conversational style. Three of these poems in particular, “The Boxer”, “The Boy In My Dreams,” and “The Interview” draw from Frederick Turner’s “The Neural Lyre” and Maurice Charney’s “Robert Frost’s Conversational Style,” in attempting to emulate a style that is an artfully fabricated imitation of ordinary conversation. My poems, like those of Frost, characterize a tone of amused and ironic detachment.
Robert Frost has a unique conversational style that is unlike any other dramatists. Frost has written a large number of poems in which the speakers are engaged in conversations and tends to characterize the speakers as more of dramatic actors. In terms of poetic style, Frost utilizes the iambic pentameter and the iambic tetrameter in his conversational pieces. For example, in Frost’s poem entitled “Directive,” follows a detached, ironic narrator who tries to involve the reader in his directions. This is a memory poem about an abandoned house, an abandoned farm, an abandoned town, and most importantly an abandoned children’s playhouse. Frost writes this poem in iambic pentameter blank verse, which is relaxed and conversational. Frost attempts “to recreate the past as if it were fiction, which furthermore establishes an elegiac tone (Charney 148).” Frost’s figurative language is generally drawn from nature and contain similes and metaphors of domestic quality. For example, Frost alludes to nature when he incorporates phrases like “pecker-fretted apple tree” and “chisel work of an enormous Glacier / that braces his feet against the Arctic Pole.” These artful images are included because they are generally applied to the subject of Frost’s poems. Similarly, in my poem “The Boy In My Dreams” many aspects of Frost’s conversational style are illustrated. In “Directive,” striking images of daily life is seen and there is an overwhelming mood of loss. Likewise, in “The Boy In My Dreams” images of struggles and daily life are seen in combination with an overall somber tone. For example, “Still the moon is falling, rising, drawing / Still the Earth is spinning and you are rotting (37-38).” These images create a convincing impression of the overflow of powerful feelings, which is very characteristic of Frost. Although Frost uses the iambic pentameter of blank verse, he includes many substitutions for the iambic foot. He sometimes breaks the speech rhythm with dashes in punctuation. Correspondingly, apart from metrical substitutions, in “The Boy In My Dreams,” I have incorporated dashes at times to promote an illusion of naturalness and fluidity. One of these instances, “And then I learned that pain is not as sweet / as men believe- when we mourn the losses(59-60).”
Furthermore, Frost is known for ending his poems with a “gnomic, epigrammatic, even hortatory and sermonistic statement (Charney 150).” Frost seems to be seeking some conclusive moral or philosophical message at the end of his poems. In my poem, “The Boxer,” I followed the story of a prize fighter going into the last fight of his career. Like Frost, I wanted to end the poem with a statement to emphasis the mock-heroic tone of the poem. I ended with, “Everyone is applauding for him to win/ He didn’t know that life could feel so good / Although, soon he will be but a has been(97-100).” By concluding the poem with this ambiguity, the mock-heroic dialogue and tone are illustrated. Another aspect of Frost’s conversational style is the incorporation of a mock-heroic tone. Frost tends to downplay the significance or the magnitude of events in an effort to miniaturize the protagonist. For example, in Frost’s poem entitled “The Runaway,” Frost states,“We heard the miniature thunder where he fled.” Generally...
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